The Post-Modern Masks of Nyarlathotep

Episode XVII: A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes (Part 10)

Back on the Emden, the Reverend stares at the water, looking for Deep Ones. With his multidimensional vision, he can see a party of the amphibious humanoids making their way towards him.

[I had originally thought Group D would be making the landing, but it was pointed out to me that having the Shoggoth attack a medium cruiser would be more interesting.]

“What was it Francis said to use? Depth charges! I’ll get the crew to help…but wait. They won’t be able to see them in the water like I can,” he muses.

He seeks out the Warrant Officer in charge of the depth charges. “You Bäker?”

“Jawohl!”

“You know the general nature of the threat we’re facing?”

“Froschmenschen, ja.”

[“Frogmen.”]

“Come with me for a moment.”

“Zum befehl.”

They enter a ward room. Charleston unrolls a chart of the local waters. “You’ll need to know where they are in order to be able to hit them.”

“Ja, ja, ich versteh’ ganz klar.”

Charleston locks the door to the ward room. “I’m going to help you. I just need you to stay very still…and let this happen. You’re going to be a great hero.” He puts a hand on his shoulder. “This is a great responsibility, one that I can’t entrust to anyone else.” He leans in closer, until their noses almost touch.

The tentacles in Charleston’s left eye socket burst through the cloth blindfold he wears, plunge into Bäker’s eye, and quickly deposit a larva in it.

Bäker screams. Charleston clasps his human eye. “Do you see? See what I see? Power! Do you understand? This is your calling! It has been granted to you by God!”

“Du bist kein Mensch! Du bist ein Teufel! Gott hat dieses nicht gemacht!”

“But you are doing this for all of us! For…the Fatherland!”

“I am a loyal soldier of der Vaterland,” rasps Bäker.

“They will sing your name! The songs won’t be very good because they’ll be in German! But they’ll sing your name!”

“Es gibt vielen ausgezeichneten deustschen Musiker,” says Bäker. “Beethoven war deutsch, Bach, Mozart…”

“Yes, yes,” says Charleston, shoving him out the door. Soon the boom of depth charges can be heard.

[The German was all done spontaneously in session; I apologize if I mangled it.]

The sky above the pagoda is filled with angry, snarling serpents and seaplanes. As Group A pushes through the gate, a loud clang is heard from the strange structure outside the temple complex. The gantries fall back, revealing a streamlined, bullet shaped metallic…vehicle of some sort.

With a tremendous roar, flame spurts from beneath the craft, and it soars up into the air. The flash is so bright that the eclipse-created night briefly turns back to day. On the Emden, sailors stare. “Rakete!” say several.

From four points beyond the horizon, livid green beams lance up into the air, meeting at a point far above the island. As if in answer, an intense beam of horrid green light fires straight up, aimed at the occluded sun.

“Let’s go!” barks Francis. They hit the wall despite being under fire from the other sniper. As he mounts the wall, Dr. Jones snarls—he’s hit in the shoulder, but shrugs it off.

Meanwhile Freddie and Group C scale the east wall and land in a crowd of hybrid Deep Ones. Anton, Dr. Dodge and Ewa Cowles leap into the fray along with Freddie. After a confused melee, they manage to kill all of the hybrids, although Dodge and Ewa are much the worse for wear.

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Episode XVII: A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes (Part 9)

With muffled oars, the German sailors row landing boats towards shore. One boat holds only rowers and three men—along with their horses. They approach the shoreline and halt in the mists. The sun rises slowly above them.

Near noontime the first bite is seen in the limb of the sun. The eclipse has begun.

The boats shoot forward and are soon being drawn up on shore. Gunfire erupts from the pagoda, several hundred yards from their landing site. Sniper fire from the two towers on opposite corners of the pagoda is especially frightening.

Group A makes a beeline for the front gate, keeping a tight formation despite the large number of people in it. A few shots hit home, staggering Guy and Inspector Melville.

Above them race the seaplanes of Joyce and Antoine. As they dive towards the pagoda, they are overtaken by two hideous winged serpents, easily outdistancing the biplanes.

“Not again,” groans Joyce. As she begins to circle, two different hunting horrors rise up from the pagoda, and soon there is a snarling dogfight between the four of them.

Group B rushes the east wall, but sniper fire slams into the ground before half of them can reach the wall. The sky continues to darken.

“Come on, lads!” shouts Freddie. “One more rush, get back together.”

[Reassurance spend by FP, after my “Separate them” move.]

In the back of the pagoda, Francis and Group C crash through the underbrush. “There!” points Francis. “That place is low enough to climb.”

“It’s under cover from the towers,” says Brady. “They’ll get a couple of us, for sure.”

“Isabelle,” says Francis in French, “I need you to go up into one of those towers.”

“I am scared.”

“Please…we need you.”

[Reassurance spend by OP.]

Gulping, Isabelle sprints forward, faster than any human could run. She leaps halfway up the nearest tower and then scrambles up the wall like a lizard. She slips over the parapet. Soon there is the sound of a quickly cut off scream, followed by crunching and slurping.

Seamus and Stephen plant satchel charges and blow open the gate. When the smoke clears, a crowd of froglike humans with claws from hands is marching towards them.

“Go!” shouts Jimmy.

“Charge!” shouts Pearkes. “Tally-ho!”

He, Sayid, and Umr gallop forward, saber and scimitars drawn. They ram into the crowd, slashing with their swords. Claws rend their legs and abdomen as they circle back and make a second charge. The Deep One hybrids are rapidly slain.

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Episode XVII: A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes (Part 8)

Thursday, 14 January 1926

The day of the total eclipse

Francis addresses the entire company. “We’ve divided you into four groups. First group is under Jimmy, that’s the main assault group. Second is under Freddie—your job is to try and infiltrate and see if any of the contacts he made can be turned. Third group is with me, you’re our backup plan in case anything goes wrong. Last group, you stay on the ship with…the Reverend, guard it against assault from the Deep Ones. Everyone, you have your objectives—fall in and prepare for action. And remember. You will see and hear many unusual things. Don’t look at them. Don’t look up. Just keep going forward.”

And here are the groups that set out that morning to save the world:

GROUP “A” (for Assault)

James Wright, Esq., Commanding

Guy Forgeron

Col. George Pearkes, VC

Umr abd’ al-Malik al-Hussein

Sayid al-Buraki

Jacques Melville, Inspecteur of the Sûreté

Faith Mahoney

Seamus McAllister

Stephen Ford

Sam Mariga

Okomu

Jan Hardekker

Desmond Motombo

Phillip Duggars

Katakatak

Dr. Henry Jones, Sr.

Dr. Abner Ravenwood

Marion Ravenwood

Dr. Francis Morgan

Dr. Warren Rice

Aerial support/extraction: Joyce Summers

“Lead from the back,” says Francis to Jimmy.

“But—”

“You’ve got to close the gate. You can’t risk yourself.”

GROUP “B” (“For ‘British’,” says Freddie.)

Roland Arthur Blakely Holmwood, Fifth Earl Godalming, Commanding

Anton Gilbert

Addison Bright

Martin Gardner

Agatha Broadmoor

Dr. David Dodge

Ewa Cowles

Mirabelle Lovecraft

Dr. Jack Seward

Billy Smith

(Billy was assigned to Group A but simply walks over to Freddie’s group when no one is watching. “Billy’s got to look after you,” he mutters to himself.)

GROUP “C” (The backup plan)

Francis O’Donnell, MD, JD, Commanding

Dr. Henry Armitage

Jack “Brass” Brady

Isabelle O’Donnell

Dr. Henry Jones, Jr.

Aerial support/extraction: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry



GROUP D (For Deep One?)

The Reverend Dr. James Warren Jones? probably Commanding

Melissa Ford, RN

Several German Marines



They decide to split up their magic items. Francis entertains the idea of destroying some—especially the Mask of Hyama—but the rest convince him this would be a bad idea.

“I wish we had some miniature radios,” mutters Francis, shooting a dirty look at Katakatak.

“Hey, you should have told me weeks ago. I could have done something then.”

“Don’t worry,” says Jimmy. “You’re still getting the hang of things here.”

“I don’t know how you live in these things. The other day, I was wearing a body, and I punched a wall—broke five bones in my hand! Who lives like this!”

“Don’t punch walls,” says Jimmy.

“Freddie, remember that thing that destroyed your apartment? The thing we saw in the desert?” says Charleston.

“The hunting horror?”

“That one. I’m going to try and time it right so that I finish my spell when the eclipse starts, and summon up a couple of those.”

“Is that safe?”

“Sure! You can use them to attack people.”

“Are they capable of distinguishing between humans?”

“Absolutely.”

“Charleston, you’ve worked for me for two years. I know when you’re lying.”

“But my name is the Reverend Jim…”

“Oh, I see,” says Freddie, rolling his eyes.

Freddie takes the Sword of Akmallah. Francis and Jimmy put on their enchanted armor. Charleston The Rev the Chinese-American gentleman takes the books. “You should take the Mask of Hyama,” he tells Freddie. “You can use it as leverage. Give me the Dagger of Thoth, so that we don’t have all our weapons in one place.”

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Episode XVII: A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes (Part 7)

“What the hell!” shouts Jimmy.

“I say,” says Freddie, “that was rather interesting.”

“Do you have my dolly?” says Mirabelle to a flabbergasted Jimmy Wright.

“We’ll call it aberrant disapparation,” says someone.

“Ah, Reverand!” says Freddie. He looks closer. “Rather, Charleston. Good to see you.”

[Me: Hey, Francis, your cousin just walked through a wall.

OP: Well, that pillar’s already shattered.]

Francis nods at Jackson. “Francis?” she says. “You look…good. You been running around or something? I didn’t want to say anything, but when you moved to France you kinda packed on the pounds…”

[In fact, Francis went from an Athletics of under 4 to an Athletics of 8, so he’s pretty ripped by this point.]

“Hey, Jax,” says Jimmy.

“Hey Jimmy.”

“You never cease to amaze.”

“At this point I’d say I’m leading the offensive,” says Francis, nonplussed.

“You don’t think you can win, do you?” says Jax. “They’ve got something in the water, something they don’t let people see.”

“We have a battleship.”

“I don’t think that helps. By the way, was it you who blew up all those warehouses?”

“That was me.”

“Charlie owes me another five pounds,” says Jax.

“What could be in the water?” says Charleston.

“I heard Dil Chandra talk about it in Hindi—one of the few languages I have left. She called it the ‘shapeless horror’.”

[JP didn’t want to make a Mythos spend with a Sanity of 3.

CP: Somebody gets to make those for free, you know.

Me: That’s right—you’ll take a Stability hit, but…

CP: Wait, can Charleston spend the Rev’s Stability?

Me: …YESSS!]

“It’s a shoggoth,” says Charleston. “A giant amorphous horror from Earth’s past. A great blob capable of creating any organs it needs at will. A giant protoplasmic monster. It can punch battleships.”

Francis scratches out something on his sheet. “Okay, I’m making another task force…”

Freddie says, “I’ve met Sheila. She’s working for the cult, along with the young lady who has a crush on you, Eloise. Sheila’s recruited a number of Amazons, for lack of a better word.”

[Somewhere around here OP asked if becoming a vampire would help him, but Isabelle’s not that kind of vampire.]

Charleston suggests giving Mirabelle a bomb for her to take back to Danger Island.

“Charleston,” says Freddie, “do you know what happens when a bomb is brought through Hyperspace?”

“Yes,” says Charleston. “Something interesting.”

“My daddy won’t let anything dangerous happen to me,” pipes Mirabelle. “He’ll stop it, and then hurt the person who did it. Oh, he likes you, Freddie.”

Freddie groans.

“Throws a hell of a party,” says Charleston.

“Yes. I’ll like those parties better when I’m older. They’ll have…better clowns.”

Thoroughly unnerved, they turn back to planning the assault.

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Episode XVII: A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes (Part 6)

On their way into the pagoda, Sheila intercepts Freddie and Mirabelle. “Go find Auntie,” says Freddie to the little girl. “I’ll be along shortly.” He and Sheila sit down in her office.

“Freddie, I’m very busy and I don’t need you meddling with Eloise. I’m very busy. You’re trying to manipulate my people. That’s what you do. It won’t matter. What do you want?”

“The same thing I’ve wanted for several years now.”

“You still want to marry me.”

“As far as I’m concerned, nothing’s changed.”

[Flattery spend by FP.]

“You are aware that I’m planning to end the world tomorrow, right?”

“Well, Sir Aubrey wants me to come with him, you know. I think he’s going to die along with everyone else.”

“Pretty sure if Sir Aubrey thinks he can go through the portal, then he can do it.”

“Which raises an interesting question: why are you going along with it?”

“I was shown by Hypatia that this is the way things have to be, so this is the way things are going to be. But it should be done right. And I’ll try to kill as few people as possible.”

“I spent an unfortunate amount of time with Hypatia, and she never had fewer than three things spinning at once.”

“Yes. I admired her for that.”

“So, logically, there is another plan? There are still some things to be done, yes? Some aspects that we don’t know? For example, having a building dropped on her head didn’t prevent me from seeing her on Desolation Island two weeks ago.”

“I wish I had seen her there…and the ceremony. I don’t know what you want me to tell you, Freddie. Your friends are probably going to try and stop us, and I am going to stop them.”

“Why?”

“That’s just the way it has to be.”

“I’m fairly certain that Hypatia only said that Aubrey’s plan was going to work.”

“No, I just said it had to happen.”

“You know, I appreciate that you’re a fantastically competent manager. But maybe you’re overlooking something Hypatia wanted you to do?”

[FP is trying to nudge Sheila towards what he thinks was Hypatia’s plan—to screw over Penhew. Sadly, that wasn’t Hypatia’s plan.]

“Listen, Freddie, I don’t know who you think you’re talking to—”

“The love of my life.”

“She’s dead.”

“No, I’m extremely delighted to see the version here now.”

“Look, I have to go. I have to get ready to end the world tomorrow. And there’s a lot of guns to check before Ceremony.”

“Let me know if there’s any way I can help.”

Freddie strides out of Sheila’s office and walks to the sitting room appointed to him. Jax is reading a dime store novel and chain smoking in the corner, while Mirabelle plays with a doll on the floor.

Freddie sits down next to her. “Mirabelle, dear?”

She looks at him with her slightly unnerving, intense gaze.

“When you dream, do you have a great deal of control over your dreams?”

She nods.

“Do you think you could dream about speaking to either Francis or Jimmy?”

“Why?”

“It seems to me that this is the only way I have to communicate with them.”

“What do you want me to tell them?”

“Well, it seems to me that you have a great deal more power in this situation, so why don’t you tell them everything you think is necessary?”

“I don’t have to dream to do that. Dreams are where I talk to Daddy. Why don’t you just walk over to talk to them?”

Freddie rocks back, and pauses before saying quietly, “You can do that?”

“I can. Do you want to come?”

“Could we take Jackson?”

“I’m not sure. I’ve never tried to take people with me.”

“Jax,” says Freddie, “ready for a short trip?”

“I guess if I die here or die in another dimension it’s all the same,” says Jax, standing up. She grabs Mirabelle’s hand, and Freddie grasps her other hand. They take a step forward—

Pain. Disorientation. The molecules! I can see them moving! The space oh the sound and—




“Yes, where is Freddie?” says Jimmy.

There’s a bright flash of light, and Freddie, Mirabelle, and Jackson are suddenly standing in front of them.

[Eight point Stability test to watch Reality do things it wasn’t supposed to…]

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Episode XVII: A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes (Part 5)

On the Ivory Wind, Francis and Jimmy begin to make plans. “Two teams,” says Francis. “One to lead the main assault, the other to be our backup.”

“What’s the backup?” asks the Rev Charleston the Reverend Charleston.

“We’re going to go through the gate.”

“I think you’re making a false assumption. Professor Schwarzchild has demonstrated the existence of a solution in general relativity of a singularity. Something physics can make no predictions about. In fact, he has shown the radius such an object would lurk behind.”

“What are you getting at?”

“I think this gate may in fact be one of these ‘black holes’. And it will only work one way. Things can go out…but not in.”

“How the hell could you know this?” demands Dr. Armitage.

Jimmy shrugs. “You get used to it.”

“If we only knew where Blakely was,” muses Francis.

[And from now on out, mostly, we’re back on recording.]

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Episode XVII: A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes (Part 4)

Wednesday, 13 January 1926

Just before dawn Joyce Summers flies Francis over Danger Island. The trip is made harrowing, first by the breakneck speed the aviatrix flies at, and then the terrifying silence that occurs when she cuts the engine half a mile out from the island.

“Don’t worry, I’ve done this plenty of times. You point the nose down and the airflow will start it right back up. Works almost every time.”

Almost?”

“Well, there was that one time…but I walked away from it, so good chance you will too.”

As they glide over the island in the early morning light, Francis notices that it is far larger than is indicated on any chart. Mists shroud most of the shore, but he catches sight of a…pagoda? complex that looks like it must be Penhew’s headquarters. He snaps some photographs for Jimmy to analyze later.

The engine turns back on with a thousand feet to spare.

Dawn finds Freddie sitting on the seashore, waiting to meet Eloise, who has been his chaperone for most of the last several days. Finally he catches sight of her coming along the beach, holding Mirabelle’s hand. He waves her over to the picnic blanket and tea service he has laid out.

“What was that?” says Eloise as she approaches.

“Sorry?”

“Thought I heard an engine…must have been the wind.” She sends Mirabelle off to play with seashells near the surf.

“Surely. So, Eloise, tomorrow is the big day.”

“Yes.” She twists a strand of hair nervously. “I suppose your friends are out there, somewhere.”

“Most probably. Francis is quite ruthless, and Jimmy very determined.”

“I liked Jimmy. He was nice to me. And Francis…helped me see who I was. I didn’t appreciate it at the time. I wish…I could apologize.”

“I’m sure he understands. Of course, I’m not quite sure I do.”

“Oh, it was back in France and…I’m afraid I don’t like to talk about it.”

“That’s not quite what I meant. I mean…about all this.”

“Oh. Well, you met Hypatia, didn’t you?”

“Yes. A most frightening woman.”

“I suppose…but, when I was really in trouble, Hypatia was the only one who understood me. She helped me through a very bad time. So it seemed natural that I would help her, you know? I mean, when I’m…not myself, I’m quite the effective fighter.”

“And how does Sheila fit in?”

Eloise shrugs. “Hypatia trusted her, and then after Hypatia…went away, we trusted Sheila. And she’s told us that this is what we have to do, to help Hypatia.”

“It doesn’t have to be that way, you know. You could go with my friends.”

“Oh, Freddie.” She hangs her head. “I really couldn’t…I…have to help my comrades. But…I wish it didn’t have to be this way.”

She stands up quickly and runs towards the pagoda.

Freddie watches her, a crooked smile creeping across his face. “Come, Mirabelle,” he says at last. “Let’s go see Auntie Jax.”

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Episode XVII: A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes (Part 3)

Monday, 11 February 1926

“We need a backup plan,” says Francis to Jimmy. “If you can’t close the gate, I’m going through it.”

“Are you nuts?”

“What choice do we have? I’ll get to the other side and…deal with what’s there. Who can we trust? To try and close it from the other side?”

“Brady,” says Jimmy without hesitation. “You’ll need somebody with some supernatural experience. How about Dr. Armitage?”

“I know that guy. Jax’s foster father. Wish there was somebody who could handle fighting and the…other aspects.”

“How about Dr. Jones?”

“The old guy?”

“No, his son. Henry Jones, Junior.”

“I’ll ask him about it,” says Francis.

“We have another problem,” says Jimmy. “The spell has to be kept up until morning. How are we going to keep a hold of the place long enough to do that?”

“That’s why we need a backup plan.”

On Danger Island, Sheila takes Freddie to her office. “Wear this badge,” she says, tossing him a laminated piece of paper. “And stay out of trouble.”

“Sheila, I can’t believe you’re here!”

“Why shouldn’t I be here? They let me use my talents, unlike some people.”

“But you were kidnapped! I was looking for you!”

“Looking really hard, I imagine. Typical Freddie level of effort.”

“Now, dash it all, I was going to marry you. I still want to.”

“That ship sailed a while ago, Freddie. Muriel showed me a vision of the future. What happens here has to be; there’s no getting around it. Now, I’m pretty busy. Why don’t you take a look around—my lieutenant will show you everything.”

Freddie stands up as an elegant woman in a plain uniform enters. “Why, Eloise Vane,” says Freddie. “I never thought to see you here. Either.”

That night, Okomu and Sam Mariga come to Francis and Jimmy. “Mr. Okomu knows someone who can help you,” says Sam. “Now it’s time to meet him.”

“What do we have to do?” asks Jimmy.

“Drink this tea.”

Francis looks at him rather sharply, then shrugs. The tea is very bitter. He feels a bit drowsy, and then…

And then everyone vanishes, except for Jimmy. They are all alone on the Ivory Wind.

From the companionway comes the sound of footsteps. They catch glimpses of a man walking through the ship, although it is hard to follow him—he always seems somewhat further in the distance, as if they can’t see him by looking directly at him.

Eventually they see him duck into a stateroom. Francis yanks open the hatch and they step out…

…onto a balcony, high in the air. The air is muggy and hot. The smell of tropical flowers fills the air. From their vantage point, they can see a large, pleasant looking bay. All around them soar towers, buildings seemingly made of glass. Distant traffic noises can be heard coming from the street.

A very handsome African man in a suit is waiting for them, leaning nonchalantly against the railing of the balcony. “Hello, Francis, James. My name is Bundari.”

[I could not help but indulge my fantasies and cast Idris Elba as Old Bundari, mystic being.]

“Where is this place?” says Jimmy.

“Rangoon, but in a world where the Black Death was 99% lethal. Europe is a network of emirates. It’s a fairly pleasant place for me to stay.” Bundari picks up a cricket bat and begins lazily hitting balls into the bay. “The only drawback is that I’m the only person here who plays cricket. I apologize for waiting so long, but in almost all the timestreams before this moment, that witch you were traveling with killed me!”

“Well,” says Francis, “we appreciate the trip here, but what can you do to help us?”

“One, I can let you know that: it is possible to do what you are attempting. Two, I have a present for you.” He hands Francis a cage with a very ugly looking lizard inside. “This is Who-Is-Not-What-She-Seems. Maybe she can help you.”

Francis looks dubiously at the lizard.

“Just make sure to feed her. She will be less useful to you if she is hungry.”

[In the actual text, this is a chameleon that can become gigantic. I decided to ramp it up to 11 and have it be a young T-Rex. However, the PCs basically forgot about it during the assault, so this will be Who’s last appearance.]

“We’ll make sure to feed her,” says Jimmy.

“Excellent. Just walk back and you will wake up. Oh, and Mr. Wright? The spell you are thinking of does not say, ‘until morning’; it says ‘until sunrise’. And surely the end of an eclipse is sunrise?”

Jimmy smiles broadly as they step through the door. Moments later they wake up in the hold of the Ivory Wind.

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Episode XVII: A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes (Part 2)

Earlier…

“My God, Jax, is that really you?”

“You never change, do you Freddie?”

“I went to your funeral!”

“Oh yeah. Heard that was a big thing. Also heard you showed up drunk.”

“What? Well, yes, but—”

“Sit down, Freddie.”

He collapses bonelessly into a chair. “I’ve been trying to finish your work, Jax. Don’t tell me that you’ve been in on it all this time—”

“Don’t be ridiculous.” She lights a cigarette in an elegant holder and sits down. “Glad to know you think so highly of me. Love of my life, ladies and gentlemen.”

“Well, then, are you the captain?”

“No!” says a man entering the salon. He has white hair, a solid square face with bright blue eyes, and a pronounced Cockney accent. “You may call me Nemo, meaning no one, for I have no name—”

“Charlie,” says Jax.

“Oh, all right.” Captain Nemo sits down across from Freddie and Jax.

[Michael Caine as Nemo! Jeez, that guy really is in everything.]

“By the way, you owe me a fiver, Charlie. He reacted just the way I said,” drawls Jax.

The captain looks at Jax, and then at Freddie. “Bloody hell,” he mutters under his breath. “Allow me to introduce myself, sir. My name is Charles Marlowe, and I’ve been a sailor most of my life.”

[Yes, THAT Marlowe, from the Conrad novels.]

“And how did you get this ship, Captain? My Auntie Em doesn’t have anything to do with it, does she?”

“I haven’t the fortune of her acquaintance, although she was friendly with one of my predecessors. No, sir, you see, several years ago I had the misfortune to make a rather trying voyage up the Congo river. The experience truly shook me, sir, body and soul, and after I returned to Europe I realized that I must become an enemy of a system so depraved. Well, one thing led to another, and eventually I attracted the interest of a rather powerful patron, who needed an experience seaman for his new submarine. And so I took command of the Nautilus.”

“And quite the vessel she is. But what is your connection with these Cultists?”

“Ah, sir, there you get into some muddled waters. My patron is also their benefactor; he’s especially friendly with Sir Aubrey. We’ve been making cruises on their behalf for a few years now. In return, Sir Aubrey has promised a fleet of vessels such as this. With those, sir,” and a manic gleam comes into his eyes, “we could drive the imperialist nations from the sea. But as attractive as that proposition might be, I find myself somewhat opposed to his ends now.”

“Because of the end of the world.”

“Something like that, sir.”

“And how did Miss Elias come here?”

“That was Muriel—Dr. Mwimbe’s idea, not mine. After my men lifted Miss Elias from her hospital, she had us nab another woman who resembled Jackson. With the help of a little magic, we soon had a body that would pass an autopsy; after all, no one looks like themselves after floating in the water for a few days. We released the body right after leaving our dockage on Long Island and then left for other missions.”

“Charlie’s been looking after me ever since,” says Jackson, lighting another cigarette.

Freddie studies her. He can tell that there’s something missing from her—some vital spark.

[In game terms, all her Pillars are shattered and her Drive no longer functions. Plus, she’s been cooped up in a submarine for a year.


I debated with myself long and hard about bringing back Jax. I didn’t want to cheapen the palpable sense of loss that pervaded the early sessions by pulling the rug out. But I always saw this as a possible outcome, so I made sure to leave some wiggle room there. In the end, I decided to go ahead, but made sure it was the cliffhanger for the penultimate session.


And then FP went and changed Freddie’s heart right before I did the big reveal. This is when games allow your story to move in unexpected ways.]

“And where are you taking me now?” says Freddie.

“To Danger Island. Sir Aubrey wants to talk to you.”

“To me?”

“Yes. Seems to have some respect for you. In any case, it’s safest for us all to make him happy. He has ways of sinking even a ship like the Nautilus. But I do hope you and your friends can come up with something.”

Several days pass. Freddie is bored and amuses himself by chattering at everyone. Jax is languid and monosyllabic. Every now and again Freddie catches a haunted look in her eyes, but she always looks away quickly when she catches him watching.

Mirabelle charms the entire crew and is uncannily well-behaved.

Eventually they enter an undersea cave, the Danger Island dockage for the Nautilus. Freddie is led up through caverns filled with machinery. The skeletal frameworks for several submarines like the Nautilus are held in some. Workers scurry around them. Something about them strikes him as inhuman.

Eventually he emerges into the tropical sunlight. And blinks.

He seems to be in the courtyard of a Buddhist temple of some kind. Thick walls surround the compound, and two pagoda-roofed towers dominate opposite corners. A large building—where the shrine would be—seems to be some kind of residence or command center.

Outside the compound walls some enormous machine, swathed in gantries, looms against the sky.

As Freddie stands there, a thin, sharp-featured middle-aged man scrambles out of the house, across the porch, and runs towards him, hand held out. “Freddie Blakely how good it is to see you!” he says in cultured English accent, vigorously pumping Freddie’s hands. “Welcome, welcome. Such a pleasure after all this time.”

“Sir Aubrey Penhew, I presume?”

“Where are my manners? Yes, yes, call me Aubrey. Damned fine to see you. And this must be Mirabelle, coming up with Miss Elias?”

“Indeed.”

“Excellent, excellent. How wonderful to have her as well. I do apologize for Muriel’s deception. I never really thought her plan could work, but, well, no one could ever tell Muriel anything. Do come and take some tea.”

Somewhat dazed, Freddie finds himself a short time later sitting on a verandah overlooking a large lagoon. A canal leads from a rather deep pool in the middle of the…temple…to the lagoon. A servant pours him a cup of excellent tea from a silver service.

“So, Freddie, I suppose you’re wondering why you’re here?”

“Constantly.”

“Well, I have to admit, I’ve admired the way you’ve been tweaking the tail of the British lion. So many warehouses burnt! Was that your doing?”

“Mr. O’Donnell’s. He has rather the knack.”

“I thought so. Man of your breeding could never. And that breeding is part of why…well, let me do this in the right order. You know what we are going to do?”

“Open some kind of gate.”

“Yes. But not just that. When we open the gate, it will be—to the source of all the cosmic mysteries. Our machines will modulate the energies that pour forth from that gate. They will awaken the latent abilities of certain humans in the area affected by the eclipse. Truly awaken them, Freddie. Their power will be…enormous. They will make the evolutionary leap to the next stage of development.”

“You said certain humans. How many?”

“We think on the order of two percent.”

“What will happen to the rest?”

“Many will be unaffected. Many, however will be killed by the changes. Many more will be driven mad.”

“How many will die?”

“Some twenty or thirty million directly. Others, later, at the hands of the Awakened, or the madmen.”

“Rather a lot, don’t you think?”

“Well. We are doing our best to limit this, you know. This is the best chance we have to awaken a substantial amount of people, while still leaving the mass of humanity unaffected. We could have tried for the Antarctica eclipse earlier, but not enough would awaken, and it would have been logistically much harder.”

“And what were the others’ roles in this?”

“Dr. Huston did most of the programming, although it was a constant fight to keep his own megalomania from poisoning the project. Likewise Muriel and Edouard had their own ideas about what should go in.”

“You make it all sound perfectly logical.”

“Freddie,” says Aubrey, with a pained look, “please try to understand. What if I were to tell you that within twenty years, over fifty million people will die? And not quickly, but in horror, by bomb, by fire, by famine. Eight millions—more—will be brutally sacrificed for no reason whatsoever except prejudice. I have seen this. Nyarlat-hotep has shown me the future.”

“I doubt there will be another war.”

“Open your eyes, Freddie. And besides. In…call it ninety years or so—none of the people alive today will still be living. By 2014, they’ll all have passed off this world. And we may kill fifty million by what we do, as many as in the war to come. But…the survivors will be gods.”

Aubrey lights a cigarette. “Anyway, Freddie, it’s all the same to me really. I don’t plan to be around when this happens. I’m going through the gate, and I’d like you to come with me.”

“What?”

“You’re a proven adventurer. I know you are a man of supreme breeding and talent. I could use someone like you with me, someone I know will do the right thing?”

“I…really couldn’t. But I must thank you for coming right out and telling me everything, it’s very refreshing.”

“Well, think it over, think it over.” Aubrey stands up. “I’m afraid I have to go see about the final preparations for the ceremony, and to greet your friends—oh yes, I know they are coming! You have the run of the place, Freddie; you won’t be able to get into anywhere dangerous. And my head of security is rather brilliant, you know. Oh, speak of the Devil!”

Freddie turns as someone in a plain but very trim uniform approaches. An elegant shoulder pin seems to mark a high rank.

For the second time since Kerguelen Island, Freddie boggles.

“This is my head of security,” says Sir Aubrey.

“Hello, Mr. Blakely,” says Sheila Brisbane.

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Episode XVII: A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes (Part 1)

Friday, 8 January 1926

Thick mists surround the Sterkte as it mournfully pushes across the Indian Ocean. The weather has been very chaotic since New Year’s Eve, when some enormous storm burst out of the Antarctic Ocean and wreaked devastation in Africa, India, and Australia.

Jimmy stands near the bow, straining to make out anything in the murk.

Suddenly, there is a flash. It repeats in a regular pattern. Someone is signalling them.

Jimmy raises his own signalling beacon and flashes back a reply.

Captain Hardekker cuts the engines and the ship glides forward.

Suddenly, a huge shape bulks in front of them. It resolves into the trim and deadly lines of a warship.

From the deck of the German ship RMS Emden, Leutnant Wilhelm Canaris waves a greeting at Jimmy. Francis comes up on deck as the naval officer drops down to the Sterkte.

“Good to see you,” he says. “You will wish to see your friends. They are trailing the Emden.”

Hardekker guides the ship forward. Another ship slowly emerges from the mist.

Francis groans. It’s the freighter Ivory Wind.

Soon they have come aboard the ship. Thanks to good handling by its new crew, the ship is no longer decrepit, having been upgraded to merely miserable. Francis and Jimmy make their way down into the cargo bay.

They are greeted by something two pints short of a riot.

People mill about the large bay. Cots and even tents have been set up to quarter them. Jimmy points at several horses corralled over by some oil tanks.

There are two Bedouin—Sayid, Noor’s brother, and Umr, her betrothed. “I knew she would never marry me,” he says by way of introduction. “She had her ways, and I honor them. But it is fitting for me to avenge her, and her father, who was a father to me as well.”

Several rather tweedy gentlemen prove to be Dr. Henry Armitage, Professor of Comparative Literature at Miskatonic University, and his colleagues Drs. Morgan and Rice. Francis shakes hands with Armitage, Jax’s foster father.

[These are of course the three who tackle the Dunwich Horror. What, you that that was their first foray against darkness?]

Henry is impressed with Jimmy’s plans, but worried about actually pulling off the spell. “It’s a complicated thing to try and do,” he says in his clipped Boston accent. “As far as I can tell, no one has ever done it.”

Francis watches as Joyce Summers and Antoine de St. Euxpéry direct some cargo hands in how to lift their planes—two trim seaplanes—out of the hold. He nods approvingly at the twin Maxim guns each plane carries.

A man in the uniform of a British Colonel shakes hands with Jimmy. “George Pearkes,” he says, almost apologetically. “Heard you chaps were in a jam. Glad to meet you, Jimmy.”

[Nah, PP didn’t make it, but I didn’t see how Pearkes wouldn’t have come to Freddie’s call.]

Jimmy is also pleased to see his friends Sam Mariga and Okomu from Africa.

Francis is surprised to meet Faith Mahoney, Mickey’s daughter, whom he had last seen in Dublin. “Ye were always a favorite of me father,” she says. “He always spoke highly of ye in his dispatches.”

Francis nods, having guessed that Miss Mahoney might have taken up the family business. She’s brought two of Mickey’s “reporters”, Stephen and Seamus.

Jimmy is overjoyed to discover that Katakatak has joined them, once he recognizes the body the Yithian is currently wearing. He’s changed a few times since Australia.

“I have a line on the Renegade. Slovenia was a dead end, though,” says the alien.

“I’m glad you’re here. I’m going to need all the help I can get.”

“Yes.”

“But you’ll help?”

“For as long as I can. I have my own plans, you know. However, most of them are hampered by the opening of an interdimensional gate. Though it does help some others…”

Francis works out a plan with Canaris. The Emden and the Ivory Wind will steam south towards Danger Island, hoping to arrive a day before the eclipse. This will give them a little while to reconnoiter the area. None of them have any idea what might await them, or what the gate machinery will look like. They can only hope to find it quickly enough to perform the ceremony.

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